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Tulare County among top 10 places for teachers to work and live

Tulare County among top 10 places for teachers to work and live

Visalia-Porterville metro area tied for fifth with Silicon Valley in terms of teacher income versus cost of living study

@TheSunGazette

TULARE COUNTY – As reports continue to come out ranking Tulare County last in education, another report shows that the Visalia-Porterville area is right where teachers want to be. 

SmartAsset, a personal finance website, released its fifth annual study earlier this summer touting Tulare County, identified as the Visalia-Porterville metropolitan statistical area, as the fifth best place for teachers to work in the United States. The ranking ties Tulare County with the San Jose area and ahead of other areas such as Spokane, Wash., Columbus, Ohio and San Bernardino, Calif.

The study looked at factors including income, income growth, job growth, spending per student, union strength, average test scores, graduation rate, violent crime rate and housing costs. For details about our data sources and how we put it all together to create our final rankings, check out the Data and Methodology section below.

Tulare County was ranked 8th last year, moving up three spots to No. 5. The average teacher salary in Tulare County is $75,836, among the top 10 in the nation. On average, Tulare County teachers make 4% more than the mean hourly wage for the United States at $28.24 per hour compared with $27.22 per hour, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Education, training and library jobs account for more than 8.1% of the jobs in Tulare County, higher than the national average of 6.1%. Some of the larger detailed occupations within the education, training, and library group included substitute teachers (3,560), teacher assistants (2,370), and elementary school teachers, except special education (2,160). Among the higher-paying jobs in this group were instructional coordinators and substitute teachers, with mean hourly wages of $39.93 and $21.07, respectively. At the lower end of the wage scale were self-enrichment education teachers ($18.73) and preschool teachers, except special education ($19.07). 

The school districts also spend an average of $13,010 per student, a top-25 rate out of all 119 metro areas in the study. That’s higher than California which ranked 20th in per pupil spending, according to the Census Bureau’s 2017 primary-secondary public education finance report. California spends $14,383 just over the national average of $14,273 per student per year. 

The California Teachers Association (CTA) is one of the largest state teachers unions in the nation. It ranked 6th in the country in terms of strength by state in a 2012 comparison funded by the Thomas B. Fordham Institute for Advancing Educational Excellence.

Like in Columbus, Ohio, the graduation rate in Visalia-Porterville is 91%. In addition, monthly housing costs are also fair-ly low, at just $967 on average. This means that the average teacher would be spending approximately 15% of his or her income on the average monthly housing costs. The median home price in Tulare County was $222,337 in the second quarter of 2017, according to the most recent survey from the National Association of Realtors. That puts the monthly mortgage payment between $1,014 and $1,136 depending on mortgage rates putting Tulare County in the 15th percentile for home prices nationwide but among the most affordable in the state. 

By comparison, Silicon Valley (the San Jose-Sunnyvale, Santa Clara, Calif. area) had an average income of just $3,000 more per year yet the average housing cost was more than double at $2,341. In the San Bernardino area, the average income for teachers is $85,077, the second-highest salary in this study. Housing costs in the area are high at $1,382 but not as high as in San Jose. Riverside saw 10% income growth for teachers between 2016 and 2018 a top-20 rate and a 13% employment jump between 2016 and 2018 a top-10 rate. The Riverside area ranks 36th overall for the metric of spending per student, at $12,204. A relatively small percentage of students are proficient in math and reading, however, at just 37%.

Tulare County does have its downside. The violent crime rate in the Visalia-Porterville area is just over 25 per 100,000 people, which ranks 37th among California counties. 

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